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    Nine kinds of biryani and a glass of beer. Southern Spice celebrates with a promotion that is hard to resist.

    WE CHENNAIITES can get very emotional about biryani. Fragrant, meaty, moist and piping hot, it pulls its weight at weddings, picnics and campaign trails. Chefs will tell you there can’t be a wedding banquet in our city without the requisite spiced rice, while politicians know the ‘biryani packet plus alcohol’ incentive is hard to beat. So is it a happy coincidence that Southern Spice’s biryani promotion comes right after the Assembly elections, with all its drama, upsets and surprises? The restaurant’s team would like to think so. There are nine varieties of biryani to choose from, all from the South. And to sweeten the deal, you can wash it all down with a glass of Kingfisher beer
    Chicken stock effect
    The first of many affordably-priced festivals at the award-winning restaurant, this biryani trip is courtesy Shankar Padmanabhan, chef de partie, who joined his friends from the Southern Spice kitchen as they visited the homes of legendary biryani across the South. In keeping with the theme of the restaurant, all North Indian biryani recipes have been given a miss, “including the Hyderabadi, for its Mughal background,” says the earnest Padmanabhan. There is the Thalassery biryani, a spicy marriage of seer fish and basmati, while the Pallipalayam and Chettinad versions are same yet different. Both feature the robust, short-grained seeraga samba rice, but with a twist in the ingredients. The Chettinad version packs a peppery wallop, and is no doubt a crowd favourite, but Madurai’s unpretentious Pallipalayam-style biryani with tender chicken, will find many converts for its red chilli twist. We like the mushroom biryani, too, with basmati and well-sautéed shallots.
    Meat the rest
    Thanks to the emphasis on tender mutton, the Andhra maamsam biryani hits all the right spots. For those partial to prawn, it comes in the moplah-style biryani, delicately flavoured with cinnamon and nutmeg. If there is one recipe that needs tweaking, it is the vegetarian spiced rice which is too timid to make an impact. Given the five-star venue, and add-ons like a Mangalorean sannas amuse bouche, mutton and brinjal gravies, green mango chutney and bread pudding from Kozhikode, the tariff is a good bait. There are countless biryani fans out there (restaurants here average 1,000 plates of the heady stuff a day). Now it remains to be seen if they will bite.
    Begins today, till May 29. At Rs 1,200++ (non veg) and Rs 1,000 (veg). Details: 30925986

    — Rosella Stephen

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